The phenomenon of the Exhibitions (1873, 1878, 1929) and their value as forums for the construction and dissemination of archaeology in Europe. I.P.: Trinidad Tortosa Rocamora
This project is preceded by results that attest to the effectiveness of this line of research, which has been underway for some years now. A path that has its origins in the study of the archaeology that has represented Spain at different Universal or International Exhibitions. At that time we concluded the study that allowed us to understand the value of these forums by looking at the Rome exhibitions organised in 1911 and 1937 (Tortosa -ed.- 2019): the catalogue of pieces - casts, models and photographs-, the people and institutions that selected the archaeological objects, how they were dealt with by the press, and the magazines that echoed the impact of these events. On this occasion, following the methodological guidelines already applied in the aforementioned study, we propose to investigate two Universal Exhibitions that were important in the European context: the 1873 Exhibition in Vienna (Austria) and the 1878 Exhibition in Paris. As a counterpoint to this late nineteenth-century context, it seems appropriate to include - as a space for national comparison- a study of the 1929 Barcelona International Exhibition, an event of particular importance for archaeology, and which coincided with the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929, , without there being any shared elements in their contents.
These exhibitions not only presented the technological innovations that would eventually change the Western way of life - such as the telephone presented by G. Bell at the Philadelphia Exposition in 1876 - but, above all, they served as cultural showcases in the broadest sense of the term. They brought together specialists and visitors alike, becoming globalising spaces that stimulated tourist expectations. Here is an example of a description of a visit by B. Pérez Galdós (Memorias de un desmemoriado, 2020: 28-29) to the Universal Exposition of Paris in 1867: “… as the summer of '67 approached, a member of my family arrived in Madrid... and they gave me the good news that they would take me to Paris to see the Universal Exhibition, the highlight of that year”. These spaces are transformed, as a final point, into symbolic and identity forums where the past, the present and hopeful gazes towards a promising future of social welfare converge; not without some critical voices that were raised to express their disagreement with this change of life which, among other reasons, predicted a distancing from the links with Nature and with less 'aggressive' lifestyles.
In this context, the archaeology presented by each participating nation ranged from the new discoveries that the nineteenth century was bringing to light, through to the debates surrounding the shaping of the archaeological discipline itself, aspects of which were discussed at the scientific congresses organised in conjunction with the exhibitions. One of the peculiarities of these exhibitions is the fact that, instead of original pieces, casts were sometimes presented to the public. In the research carried out in Rome, we were able to find the copies sent from Spain to Rome in 1911, deposited in the Museo della Civiltà Romana, and perhaps, in the study we now propose, we will be able to locate some of those that were sent at that time.